Mother and Child Health, Nigeria

On the outskirts of Abuja, capital of Nigeria, you will find a settlement called Aco Housing Estate at New Lugbe on the Airport Road. Here, the MMM Sisters and their co-workers are involved in a range of services around mother and child care.

Antenatal clinics are held both at the base clinic and in our wide outreach programme. The under-fives' clinic monitors small children. Nutritional support is provided, including infant feeding formula where indicated.

This work is also part of the national immunization programme, which is implemented three days a week at outreach stations, and once a week in the base clinic. Drama is used as an educational tool at all the clinics, education talks and workshops.

Other elements of care of mothers and infants include classes on natural family planning, helping married couples solve their problems. Social care is provided, for instance to families whose homes and trading posts have been demolished and who have lost everything because they were squatting.

Sister Leonie McSweeney is an MMM doctor who has devoted herself to the Pro-Family Life Association of Nigeria for many years. One of her big concerns is overcoming false beliefs, like the idea that intercourse is not possible during breast feeding.

She says, "Reports from many States suggest that our teaching is bearing fruit. This helps avoid infidelity during breast feeding. A partner could acquire HIV and later infect the mother and a future child."

Sister Leonie has written widely on these taboos, and has appeared on national TV with appropriate education.